Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dressmaking and some knitting.

Vintage pattern
I found this pattern in a charity shop some time ago. Butterick 6301 dating from the late seventies and early eighties. I did have a copy of this pattern when it first came out, making the waistcoat, skirt and blouse. That first version had the skirt and waistcoat in a light woolen suiting. The blouse was made from a light off white viscose. I wore them out. Sadly, that pattern got lost amidst the house moves.

This pattern is the junior size, 5. It was interesting making a version in my own size. I made the paper pattern first, and now have a version in cheesecloth under way. Hopefully it will work out without too much alteration.
Cheesecloth version of 6301 under way.

Burda culottes pattern from 1989
 This will be the next dressmaking challenge. I will be making a second version of these culottes from Burda Magazine. I wish I still had the magazine - another victim of the house moves over the years. However, I still have the pattern and the line drawings to go from.

These will be made from this viscose fabric found on the Northwich fabric stall. It is lovely and soft and will drape beautifully.

Yesterday I found myself frustrated by the lack of a pin cushion. All my dressmaking pins seemed to be clustered into one cushion. So I collected together some of my selvedge scraps and pinned them onto some leftover cheesecloth.

Not very long after this stage, I was merrily stitching using a two stage zigzag. With the remnants of a piece of wadding which had been languishing in a cupboard, and a 5 inch diameter pot found some time back in a charity shop, I had this pin cushion ready to use.

It is now helping me with the cheesecloth blouse. The pot is quite heavy, so is stable beside my sewing machine.
Wolf in sheeps clothing hat
This little hat for my grand daughter is nearing completion. The deadline for this is next week, so I am on time I am pleased to say.

The next two items are recently completed projects:

First, the orange dress which I dyed then printed. This has been washed and ironed ready for wearing again.

This second project is a pair of culottes which I started a few days ago. I made the classic mistake of cutting the pieces out without a seam allowance. Luckily, there is a deep leat on the front and and a long dart on the back. Reducing both of these meant that this pair of culottes now fits well. Again, the fabric is a lovely viscose from the market stall.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Making sure that I don't miss a deadline

Printed pinny
I printed this pinny a couple of weeks ago. A sample before starting work on my orange dress. The pinny was printed using three different thermofax screens from my collection. The flower and leaf designs are my own whilst the lovely bee image is a stock item from Thermofax Screens. I used calico (muslin) from my bolt of fabric. So useful to have a large amount of fabric to hand when needing to trial ideas. I won't be using the reverse side of this pinny since I have left it plain. However, now I come to think about it, that might be rather useful.......
Pinafore pattern
As you can see, the pattern is one of those really useful and practical ones. My only concern being that there is no pocket. Ah well, something to add to the next one?

My orange dress in the process of being printed. 
When printing the apron after I had made it - a deliberate act since my orange dress had already been sewn together - I quickly discovered that thermofax screens cannot cope with curves. So, for the dress I decided to use some of my collection of wooden print blocks. Drawing some chalk lines to help in keeping the prints an equal distance apart, I printed a quarter of the circle skirt at a time. It seemed to work well. My next project will be to print a length of fabric ready to make up into a dress or a skirt.

The dress has been worn and washed and has survived well. I did add a lining to the dress skirt section since I felt it needed a little more body. I bought some horsehair braid to attach to the hemline, but have not felt it needed that extra stiffening. I must get a photo of the dress once I have ironed it and it is ready to wear again.

Recent fabric purchases
I have been rather naughty lately and bought some fabric. Yes, I had planned to use up some of my fabric stash. Unfortunately, much of that stash isn't in the colours I really need for the clothing I plan to add to my wardrobe. The middle two fabrics here are denim. The upper one was bought from The Denim Company when I went to the Festival of Quilts last week. I just couldn't resist it. Such a pretty floral print.. The top fabric is a light lawn from the Fent Shop and I plan to make a blouse from this one. The green fabric at the bottom was a find in Abakhan and is a textured green jersey from which I plan to make a pair of culottes for the winter months. The plans for the two denim fabrics involve my making up a pinafore dress based on the design of a pair of dungarees seen at the International Model Aircraft Show at Weston Park in June. I managed to sketch the design on a page of my notebook. It will be quite a challenge to develop a pattern from a pencil drawing.......... One thing which troubles me, though is would this infringe copyright? I am not intending to make a pair of dungarees as seen at the show, but a pinafore dress with a similar top to the dungarees I saw.

There has been knitting. I have now completed this jumper and put it away for the cooler months. As you can see, it fits me perfectly. Since I am used to having rather boxy and loose fitting knitwear, this makes rather a nice change and will take quite a lot of getting used to. The design will not be available until the middle of next month since this was a test knit for the designer. I've now started another tes knit for the same designer. This time it is a hat for a toddler. A much quicker item.

I found these two books and the three metre length of muslin (cheesecloth) they are lying on last week on the sales table when I went to Pinfold. The fabric has now been washed and is waiting for different dyeing and printing projects. I quite fancy the idea of a long-sleeved cheesecloth shirt. A very seventies idea.

This last piece was finished a number of years ago and I had never done anything with it. The background is free machine embroidered onto calico with an embroidered paisley element held in place above it. The embroidered piece is stiffened with wire stitched into the outline. The whole was a challenge laid down some years ago by Sharon Boggon to use some of her paisley line drawings. It is quite a shock to realise that I had completed this piece back in January 2007! You can see the sequence of paisley designs I had worked at the time here. The others have not been mounted or framed either.

Those deadlines? Well, the jumper needed to be finished by September 17th. I am a month ahead of myself there. The hat needs to be completed by the end of the month, so I am on target with that. Just so long as I don't get sidetracked. 

I do have one deadline which I must not miss. I haven't yet started work on that. I need to complete my piece for the MEG Colour Challenge by September 25th. I have a diptych in mind for that one. However, I have a pair of culottes on my sewing table which must get finished first. Unfortunately, I made the really stupid mistake of cutting these out without a seam allowance. This has made sewing them a bit of an ongoing puzzle. What doesn't help is that I made exactly the same mistake the last time I used this pattern. Those culottes worked out quite well in the end and were worn a lot during last winter. I'm just hoping that I can make these work out too.

Speaking of deadlines, I really must get myself back and organised into posting here on the blog more regularly. I have got out of the habit and need to retrain myself back into posting weekly. This is one item on my to-do list which often gets overlooked. Apologies to anyone reading this.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Plodding on with those lists

Toyota overlocker, SL1T
This little overlocker came into my possession a few days ago. It had been on Freegle and wanted a new home. A quick clean, new needles, a little oil and it works perfectly. I wasn't expecting a new-to-me machine, but my husband had seen it and got it for me. I threw out the cones of thread it came with, using my own instead. It isn't often that such an item is offered free to a new home. It isn't as versatile as my own Huskylock 910, but is a good basic machine. The sticky labels with the numbers were just to help me sort out the threading and tensions needed to get it working properly. It now sits under a new machine cover made from the remnants of a curtain. This should keep it nice and dust free before it comes into action again. It was rather useful in repairing some costumes yesterday. I didn't want to disturb the settings on my Huskylock since I needed it for putting together the butterfly top I was also working on. I rethreaded the Toyota with black thread for the repairs. I was really pleased with the resulting stitching.

Toyota overlocker at rest under it's new cover.

It is almost embarrassing to acknowledge that I now have two overlockers and two sewing machines living in my sewing room at present.

Repaired costumes
The costumes are three Crow costumes which got damaged at the Crow Fair a couple of weeks back. They now have new wings ready for performances next summer.

The butterfly top is shown below just before the strip round the neck was sewn in place. It is now ready to wear, though I am not entirely happy with the neckline. The edging seems a little too loose to me so I will probably remove it and redo that a little later today. I have finally decided how to piece the front of the purple top and will probably get that sewn together later today.

Butterfly top nearing completion
The purple top will have a round neck, pieced front and three quarter length sleeves. It shouldn't take long to put together once I've decided whether to alter the neck on the butterfly top. Ah well, at least I will soon have two more items ticked off my to do list.

Fabric pieces ready to reassemble to make the purple top.
I was really lucky to find some vintage patterns from Prima magazine in a charity shop last week. So strange to recall that they date from the time when I frequently bought the magazine. I left one of the patterns behind for someone else since I already have that particular pattern in my collection.

A lucky find in a charity shop
The jacket pattern dates from the August 1988 issue, while the dress is dated April 1992. The zipped jacket comes from January 1993.

 The scrap fabric piece has also been completed. In the end I used three different threads to quilt it getting a darker thread each time I changed the colour. It now needs pressing before making into a messenger bag.
Completed scrap fabric piece
I have also been steadily working on the test knit which was shown in the last post. I am now nearing the bottom edge of the body where there is a patterned border around the base. The sleeves look a little odd since the live stitches are being held on my spare circular needles.

I am looking forward to finishing the stocking stitch and getting on with the lace border. This yarn has a slight marl to it so that the completed knitting doesn't look flat and uninteresting. The only failing being that it does have a tendency to split which is a bit of a nuisance at times. It is the Stylecraft Life 4ply yarn which is a useful acrylic and wool mix. This is the colourway called Heather.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sewing, knitting and lists

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing jumper - showing work in progress sewing in ends
Do you use lists? I seem to be pursued by them. I have a weekly list which details the things I really ought to be working on. This test knit was one. I needed to get it finished for the 17th July since the designer needed my report by then. I managed to complete it a few days ago, earlier than planned since there was going to be rather a lot of ends to sew in. You can see some at the top. These alone took three days since I really cannot stand having to complete more than around 30 at a time. 

Completed jumper
The other deadline on the jumper was getting it ready for handing over at a family gathering on Saturday. It has been much admired, but the recipient hasn't yet worn it. It was far too warm a day.

Next Free Machined project
The main reason to have a weekly list is because I really do tend to prevaricate and could easily run over time on some of the deadlines which are coming up. The FME projects I have been stitching lately don't really need to be completed until the middle of November. However, if they don't get started now I really don't see that the stitching will be completed and the resulting pieces made into anything by then. I completed the blue one shown last time, and have now started the yellow/blue one above. For this one I have added a water soluble fabric over the top with a grid drawn over it to keep the overall design to a reasonable size. I got started with this at a sewing group meeting during the week in Chester. I must remember to find a trolley to hold my sewing machine. It is so heavy to carry anywhere.
Making books
 Another deadline was getting these small book covers completed ready for a NWCQ session on Thursday. In the end I added another three complete books and added stitched pages into the five shown above. They were needed as a fundraiser for the Contemporary Quilt stand at Festival of Quilts. It was nice to be able to hand over eight completed books at the end of the meeting. These are all scraps of my printing experiments bondawebbed to corrugated card which had protected some knitting needles I had ordered online. The pages inside were scrap paper - envelopes for the most part. It is nice to be able to use up items which would otherwise become waste.

New test knit project
This new test knit will be a jumper for me. Knitted from the top down it has a lace yoke which you can see more clearly in the photo underneath. Another deadline, but this one doesn't need to be completed until the middle of September. I still can't afford to let it sit since the yarn is 4ply! It is a much bigger project than the children's jumpers I have been knitting so far.

Showing detail of the lace yoke
I managed to get the deadline muddled on the next piece - the Pinfold Challenge. The Crazy Patchwork piece should have been completed for the August meeting. Most people seem to be making larger quilts making more than one block. One was enough for me. The easel is a miniature one since the quilt is only 6.25 inches across (16cm) and 6.5 inches high (16.5cm).

Completed Crazy Patchwork challenge
I managed to complete the Stowe bag which has been hanging around my workroom for what seems like ages. The bias binding edge was some lovely printed bias I bought a long time ago and never got around to using. Such a useful bag it has now been given to my daughter. It is made in a rather nice denim - a mid weight fabric, not too heavy.

Completed bag
Speaking of bags, I came across this printout in my collection of patterns a few days ago. My circular needles had been getting into rather a mess since I had had to put my fixed needles into another folder which was already full. I used the left over pieces of denim for the main body of the bag and found a pretty blue print for the contrast sections and bias binding. I must remember to take a photo of the finished folder. It is already helping me to make my knitting needles somewhat tidier. Hopefully it will make finding the right size easier too.

New holder for my fixed circular needles
During the week I had a small delivery from Thermofax Screens. Two mini screens of a robin and a bee. I used them to decorate these two shopping bags ready to hold gifts for the family gathering on Saturday. I sprayed the bags first using the acrylic sprays I bought from Lidl some months ago. The motifs were printed using black screen printing ink. Yes, I did remember to put plastic sheet inside the bags as I sprayed and printed them.

Present carrier bags
Earlier this week I travelled to Blakemere for lunch and a wander around. I picked up these items - a vintage pattern from 1976 for my collection, and two large wooden printing blocks. Sadly these haven't photographed very well. I must print with them and show their designs that way.

Lucky find - pattern from 1976

Two new-to-me print blocks
Speaking of lists, I have already written the list for this coming week. So far there are just eleven items listed. This does feel rather too short a list since I started with twenty last time. At the NWCQ meeting I ended up chatting about lists to a friend sitting on the same table. She tends to prioritise hers. I hadn't the heart to own up to having most of the elements on my last list as priorities which had to completed during that week. In the end, I managed to complete nine of them - the ones needed for the family gathering and a couple of other items needed by other people. I'm hoping I might complete the ones I need for myself this week. However, there are some repairs to costumes which must be completed first. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Making progress - but slowly

Found this beautifully marked feather in the garden this week. I just had to rescue it. It looks to have come from the partial albino Blackbird which visits the garden from time to time.

Free machine embroidery under way.
Front view
 The free machine quilting has continued this week with the third of my four pieces now under way. This one is bigger than the previous two being 16" wide by 19" long (40.5cm by 48cm). A useful size, I haven't quite decided what to use it for.

At the moment it looks rather distorted since I haven't added all the stitching yet, as you can see in this photo of the reverse side.
Current back view

The knitting is continuing. I have almost finished the body and am now on the ribbing at the bottom edge.

 The colours make more sense when you see Ella's colouring. I chose her as the inspiration for the colours I used.
Crazy patchwork challenge
My crazy patchwork piece now just needs the edges tidying up and a border added. The cat buttons have been in my collection for rather a long time so it was nice to be able them here.

Sketchbook challenge - MEG
 I have also been adding bits and pieces to my Ideas Book. This was started as a challenge for the MEG group. I really need to get back into feltmaking again, so I added a series of sheep cartoons. I have samples of wool from each of these breeds ready to felt. Since I hadn't got much idea what these breeds looked like, I decided to find out and develop cartoons to help me recognise them. There are many more breeds of sheep than are shown here. This is a project where I still have rather a lot to do, even before I get started with the felting.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Getting busy with my sewing machine and other things

My worktable - such a mess!
It was a surprisingly busy week last week despite some really high temperatures. It all ended with my table looking like this. A real mess. I spent some time getting it tidy again before being able to start anything else.
Pinfold crazy patchwork challenge
As you can see there has been some progress with the crazy patchwork, There is still quite a lot to do. I have collected a number of things which could be added - buttons, beads, lace and a broken zip included. Quite how much of this will be included remains to be seen.

What a mistake!
 I've been doing quite a lot of free machine embroidery. This first one was started after the green piece. I had decided to try and do a kind of all over pattern which wasn't related to the pattern made by the fabric pieces. Without thinking too much about it, I got out the stitch and tear and drew a grid pattern which I could use to develop the pattern I wanted to use. I should have torn off the stitch and tear after sewing the grid........ Instead, I got going on the stitching. Big mistake. I only realised just what I had done when I tried to remove the paper around the first few squares. It took a ridiculously long time, a pair of tweezers and very sore fingers. As a result I removed the paper from around the squares I hadn't yet stitched.
The same piece with the paper removed after stitching 
As you can see if you look closely, there is still plenty of bits of paper waiting to be removed. The following photo is of the first piece I had worked on. For this one I just free machined using the large squares and then infilling the rest. Lots of fun using a variegated thread. You might remember seeing these pieces a few weeks ago when I was making fabric from scraps used in making the packs for my talk coming up in November.
The green one will eventually be made up into a cushion cover. The smaller blue one will turn into a zipped project bag. There are two further pieces which need to be stitched. I have plans for what they might turn into, just haven't got started with them yet.
The green free machine embroidered piece
I still haven't finished work on the two tops which I showed last time. Perhaps next time?

Progress with the knitting
I did get some knitting done, but progress has been slow, probably due to the hot weather earlier this week. At least that is my excuse. I really do need to get on with this one since it needs to be finished by the 7th July.....